At Teachstone, we sometimes hear from educators that they aren’t sure how to help facilitate exploration in their learning environments. The CLASS® Manual gives some specific examples, like asking the children to predict which ball will roll further, or making faces back and forth with an infant. But, in this blog post, I want to talk about how the learning environment space itself. The set-up and materials you use can support stronger interactions with children as well.
Young infants develop a unique relationship—known as attachment—with their caregivers. To develop secure bonds, infants need to know that at least one person really cares about them. Caregivers provide that comfort by helping infants regulate needs and emotions, such as hunger and sadness. With healthy attachments, infants develop a sense of safety and trust.
Infants need to be held, to have face-to-face interactions, to feel another human heartbeat. By meeting these needs, caregivers foster attachment. Plan how you will meet these essential needs—while keeping yourself and infants safe.
As an infant classroom teacher, you know that talking to babies is important. For instance, you tell the infants in your care what they are looking at (“You see the new block basket on the shelf!”). You label objects (“You have the red ball!”). And you describe events that take place in the classroom (“The tray just fell off the table! That scared you.”). These are all examples of talking with babies. Why, then, can it be so challenging to do this consistently in the classroom?
In this vlog, you'll hear an overview of Teacher Sensitivity and Facilitated Exploration at the Infant level. Mary-Margaret introduces Responsive Caregiving and how to improve interactions by looking at an infant's cues that the child may be trying to communicate a need as well as ways to support an infant's exploration.
Facilitating a brand new training can come with a mix of emotions like anxiety, nerves, and excitement. I recently experienced every one of those emotions and then some as I prepared to deliver a new training. I wanted to ensure that I learned the new content to fidelity, so I spent hours reviewing and studying. I viewed the training videos. I prepared some awesome reflective questions to ask my participants. I brainstormed activities to engage the group, and I rehearsed my PowerPoint slides. My facilitator binder and manuals have never seen so many highlighter marks!
With preparation complete, it was go-time! I put on my “CLASSes” and knew that if I focused on the importance of interactions, it would all come together. And it did.
A few months ago, I gave a training to a group of early childhood professionals over the Infant CLASS. As I was going over one of the indicators titled, Awareness and Cue Detection, I read the high range description on the face-page:
“Teachers consistently physically orient toward the majority of the infants and regularly look around the room. Teachers continuously acknowledge infants whether or not they are making bids for attention, by talking to them or giving them a nod or smile.”
When training on the Infant and Toddler CLASS, the importance of cue detection can’t be stressed enough to your participants. Infants and toddlers depend on a sensitive and responsive adult to recognize the messages or cues that they are sending. These "bids for attention" are the way then that children communicate, essentially asking adults to respond in a way that meets each child’s individual needs. And whether we are coding or caregiving, starting with cues is the way to go!
About four months ago, my husband and I welcomed our second child, Maddy, into the world. Unlike 20 months earlier, when Oliver was born, we weren’t worried about having all the right baby gear. I wasn’t waking with nightmares about the birth. Quite frankly, our hands were so full juggling full time jobs and a toddler that child #2 was more of an afterthought. It would be simple—I knew exactly what I was doing.
Let's talk today about the CLASS tool being used for infants and toddlers. You may be familiar with the fact that the Infant measure (birth to 18 months) has one domain—Responsive Caregiving— with four dimensions, while the Toddler measure (15-36 months) has two domains—Emotional and Behavioral Support and Engaged Support for Learning—with eight dimensions.
The science is in on New Year’s resolutions. According to a recent article by Bob Sulilvan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, about half of us will resolve to change something in 2016, and about half of those resolvers will have given up by Valentine’s Day (that makes sense to me, I mean, the chocolate alone!). In spite of those odds, I love a good couple of New Year’s resolutions. Setting meaningful CLASS goals for the rest of your school or program year don’t have to be overwhelming, in fact, the simpler the better!